Saturday, April 09, 2011

(MnG) 'I want my kids to be righteous and Rasta'

'I want my kids to be righteous and Rasta'
AYANDA SITOLE - Apr 08 2011 00:00
South Africa

Emndeni is alive with the sounds of children squealing with delight as they bounce on a bright green jumping castle. It is Tshimologo Mofolo's first birthday and her parents have pulled out all the stops.

Outside the house -- which is dotted with red, green and yellow balloons, the colours of the Rastafari -- the adults are swaying to the upbeat sounds of reggae. Jabulisile Mofolo, like many of the women who have come to celebrate her daughter's birthday, is dressed conservatively. She wears a long floral dress and her long sleeved is shirt buttoned to the top, her dreadlocks tied up under a black turban.

The modest attire and the family atmosphere are a bit at odds with the impression some in Soweto have of Rastas, who are often criticised for their appearance. "When people see a hobo in the streets and he has dreadlocks, they think he's a Rasta, so they stereotype us and assume that all Rastas are homeless and dirty," says 25-year-old Amlak Alpha, a friend of Mofolo.

He says that dreadlocks are a sign of the Rasta faith, the length of their hair representing their wisdom and the years they have been loyal to their religion, acting like "antennae" to connect them to their ancestors, God and Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 and considered by the Rastas to be a living God.

But it is not just strangers in the township who have a bad impression of Rastas -- some of their own families reject the religion, especially at first. "In my home, my mother was surprised when I told her I was Rasta," Mofolo says. "But soon she grew to understand that it's what brings me purpose and peace. She's learned to accept me … we want our daughter to grow up knowing her African heritage, which is a part of our Rasta culture."

DJ Ras Madoda plays reggae and dance hall music at the Ipeleng Hall in White City, Soweto, where Rasta families, including their children, gather regularly. Music is a central element of Rastafari and the history of the movement can be learned by listening to it.(Madalene Cronjé)

Opposite response

For Amlak Alpha, which is the Rasta name he took when he began practising the religion and means "the almighty first", the response of his parents was the opposite. They were shocked when he started smoking marijuana at the age of 13, when he first adopted the culture, and they continue to reject it.

They still hold out hope that at some stage he will grow out of it. But for Amlak Alpha, who grew up in Dobsonville, it's not likely that things are going to change. He came to the birthday party with five of his friends, all band members of D Gang (which stands for Dobsonville gangsters). As they share a joint among them, they talk about the music, Rasta philosophy and the politics that bind them.

Rastas are strongly tied to Pan-Africanism, the belief that all black people of the world should join in brotherhood and work to decolonise Africa. They also believe in the repatriation of all black people of the diaspora. Smoking marijuana, for them, is a form of religious practice.

Muzzla Menelek, one of the band members, is dressed immaculately in long white pants, a buttoned up white shirt and a high white turban. He speaks in scripture. Rastas are Christians who have adopted the King James version of the Bible and they are often guided by the Old Testament. But when Muzzla Menelek explains their religious beliefs about marijuana as a sacrament, he refers to the New Testament, Matthew, chapter 13, verse 24, The Parable of the Weed: "… collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned and bring them into my chalice".

"This is why we formed D Gang," says Igxebe West, another band member. "We don't do if for the business but for the love of people and the music. We want to teach them about our ways."

Mamma and Pappa Gad attend a dance session where they socialise with other Rastas in the community. They use marijuana as a sacrament. (Madalene Cronjé)

Musical influence

Rastafari became increasingly well known when reggae music soared in popularity in the 1980s thanks to the music of Bob Marley, whose songs are infused with tales of love, relationships and the Rasta's religious beliefs.

Marley's song, Exodus, speaks about the Rastafari who migrated from Babylon and are seeking another Moses to lead them out of an oppressive society filled with injustice and bring them to their father's land -- which is Africa. "Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living? We know where we're going. We know where we're from. We're leaving Babylon. We're going to our Father's land."

Music is a fundamental element of the Rastafari and the movement's history can be learned by listening to it.

Later that night D Gang performs at Soweto's Mzimhlope Hall. It is a social gathering known as a dance session. Rasta families with their children and dozens of youths dressed in red, green and yellow fill the space. Some couples wear matching outfits, others wear colourful turbans -- worn high and low -- and every style and length of dreadlocks.

Jabulisile Mofolo with her daughter, Tshimologo. Mofolo became a Rasta at the age of 14 and she says it brings her peace.(Madalene Cronjé)

'Celebration of life, God and love'

The nights are mainly about listening to reggae and live poetry; they meditate on marijuana and praise Selassie. Alcohol and cigarettes are strictly forbidden, although they smoke beedies, which are made from tendu leaves and natural tobacco, with no chemicals added.

The Rastafari call these sessions a celebration of life, God and love. Women prepare vegetarian food (without salt) which is laid out for the crowd, and Rastafari memorabilia, such as badges and posters, are on sale.

Most Saturday mornings are spent in church and some of the Rastas who gather at the party have attended what they call a "sabbath". There are formal Rasta churches -- one in Berea, Johannesburg and another in Pretoria -- but the Soweto Rastafari meet on a hill in Dobsonville.

"We prefer to pray in the mountain because it is a part of nature and makes us feel like we become a part of the element," says Amlak Alpha.

Ruby Maketha, a respected elder in the Rasta community, cradles a baby, while a toddler tugs on her skirt. She and her husband, Mcedisi Mzondo, have five children and have committed their lives to Rastafari for more than a decade.

They share their opinions about the importance of raising a Rasta family in modern society.

"I want my children to grow up Rasta and to be righteous and conscious," says Maketha.

"To know the difference between what is good and bad, and I can already see that in them. If my child­ren grow up and decide that they no longer want to follow our custom I will be disappointed, but I cannot control what they do. I know that one day they will come back to the ways that we have taught them."

Mzondo describes the meaning of Rastafari, which he feels is often misunderstood.

"Rastafari is about love," he says. "If we live according to the love that God has given us, we can bring back Heaven on Earth. "God is not a person in the sky. He lives among us and we can be like the Garden of Eden, as it should be on Earth."

Ras Igxebe West, a member of the band D Gang. He says they play not to make money but out of a love of people and music. (Madalene Cronjé)

An earthly salvation

Rastafari believe that Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, is the living God. They do not believe that he died in 1975 -- they say he "disappeared" and lives as a spiritual being.

Selassie is believed to be descended from Solomon and Sheba, and Rastafari believe that he is the Messiah prophesied in the King James version of the Bible who will lead the people of Africa and its diaspora to freedom.

Jamaican scholar Marcus Garvey, who died in 1940 and was a vocal advocate of Pan­Africanism, is considered to be the prophet known in the Bible as John the Baptist.

One of his most famous prophecies involved the coronation of Selassie in 1927, with the pronouncement: "Look to Africa, for there a king shall be crowned who will be called King of Kings".

Jesus Christ, who Rastas refer to as Emmanuel, is not the ­chosen Messiah but the son of God.

According to the BBC religions website, Rastafari believe they are the chosen people of God who are on Earth to promote his power.

They believe that salvation is an earthly rather than heavenly concept, and they have the utmost respect for nature, which is mirrored by their vegetarian diet.
They believe that evil is both personal and corporate and often refer to modern society as Babylon.

One of their major celebrations is Groundation Day, April 21, to commemorate Selassie's visit to Jamaica in 1966, says the BBC. It involves dancing, singing, feasting and smoking marijuana; the celebrations can last up to seven days.

One of their religious practices is known as "reasoning", which is an opportunity to discuss their spiritual and philosophical views while burning marijuana as a sacrament. One person is honoured by being allowed to light the herb and say a short prayer.

Marijuana is passed around in a clockwise direction, except in times of war when it is passed counter-clockwise.

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MMD leaks continue

MMD leaks continue
By George Chellah
Sat 09 Apr. 2011, 04:02 CAT

Leaks from the MMD national executive committee (NEC) meetings have continued despite President Rupiah Banda and Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha’s warnings and threats.

Leaks from the MMD NEC’s first meeting disclosed that President Banda has directed the party to start identifying possible parliamentary candidates in all opposition-held constituencies.

And according to these leaks, information minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha warned newly-elected MMD national officials that gadgets would be installed soon to catch those behind leaks.

Well-placed sources within the MMD NEC leaked information stating that the President gave the directive during the national executive committee's first meeting, which lasted for about 45 minutes in Kabwe.

“During our very first NEC meeting, which was held at Mulungushi University's Chalabesa Hall around 11:00 hours, the President told the newly elected party officials that there was need for hard work ahead of the forthcoming general elections,” the source said. “President Banda stressed that we must work hard and that the party programme will soon be released. The President further said the party must start identifying parliamentary candidates in constituencies where there are no MMD members of parliament.”

The source further leaked information that President Banda pledged to work with the newly elected senior party officials.

“The President told the meeting that ‘since the people have decided, I have no choice. Let’s work together',” the source said. “Obviously, this was after some of his preferred or favourite candidates who were floated to contest certain positions lost.”

The source said President Banda urged the newly-elected chairpersons for women's affairs and youths, Sylvia Masebo and Moses Muteteka to work hard.

“He told them that ‘the youths and the women are very important so we need to work hard’,” the source said.

The source said President Banda cautioned the senior party members against leaking information that is tabled in NEC meetings.

“He warned that we should not leak whatever we discuss in NEC meetings. The President emphasised that there were important NEC decisions that are made and should not be for public consumption,” the sources said. “He was indirectly alluding to the fact that there are people he doesn't trust even in the new party national executive committee. No wonder even when he was addressing delegates at the close of convention he repeated the warnings over leakages.”

The source said MMD chairperson for defence and security, who is also information minister Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha warned the meeting that gadgets would soon be installed to catch people behind leaks.
“He said ‘we will put gadgets to catch those that leak information’. Actually, this is the second time Shikapwasha is making these threats over this issue of leakages,” the source said.

The source revealed that President Banda stressed the need to reduce the workforce at the MMD secretariat.

“On this one he was clearly addressing Chembe Nyangu and Richard Kachingwe. He said that now that there is a new national secretary he hopes that things will be in motion,” the source said. “The President said the secretariat is currently bloated and that the party requires a small and very effective secretariat so that the little money which the MPs contribute can sustain the small work force.”

The source said President Banda later on invited the persons he had nominated into the NEC who included Vice-President George Kunda to join the meeting.

The source disclosed that in his acceptance speech, Vice-President Kunda told the meeting that he was humbled.
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(STICKY) You shouldn’t give up your fight for change, Sata urges Zambians

You shouldn’t give up your fight for change, Sata urges Zambians
By Misheck Wangwe
Sat 09 Apr. 2011, 04:01 CAT

Michael Sata has urged Zambians not give up their fight for change. And Sata says he agrees with the Oasis Forum, which is demanding for the resignation of George Kunda who had been misleading successive Republican presidents on the constitution making process.

Featuring on a Patriotic (PF) Front sponsored live programme on Radio Phoenix yesterday, Sata said Zambians had suffered enough at the hands of the MMD and they should not give up their call for the change of government.

Sata, who is opposition PF leader, said the MMD did not deserve to be in government because they had destroyed the nation.

“Don’t listen to the propaganda of the MMD. Wake up early on polling day and cast your vote. You should not give up your fight for change.

PF is ready to transform the economy by strengthening our currency, creating jobs and restoring dignity in the lives of all Zambians who had been subjected to misery by the MMD,” Sata said.

He said Zambia was in need of leaders who would speak and attend to the needs of the silent majority.

Sata said it was sad that many young people had been frustrated and were failing to make progress in their lives because there were no employment opportunities for them.

“President Banda is busy advertising that he had built 17 bridges, schools, hospitals and that he had opened five new mines but they have not told us were this development is taking place. It is not there for the Zambians to see,” Sata said.

And Sata said George Kunda had already started paying for his deceit over the constitution making progress. He said it was sad that after 47 years of independence, Zambians were still wallowing in abject poverty because of political manipulation over the constitution.

“This is what happens when power gets into the heads of leaders. You cannot have a flimsy constitution for all these years. A constitution that protects the interests of those in power and not the people. We still have hope that Zambians will have a people driven constitution,” Sata said.

“In Zambia it depends with who you are in society. If you are rich you can kill and go scot-free. If you are poor you will rot in jail. The police use live bullets on defenceless people. Its all because they have no law that protects them.”

Meanwhile, Sata said the PF would buy an artificial leg for David Siyoto, whose leg was amputated after police shot him during the January 14 Mongu fracas over the Barotseland Agreement where two people were shot dead by police officers. He said the Constitution, being a supreme law of the land, must give power to the people and it must protect them.

And Sata said he had never advocated for laws that recognise homosexuality as alleged by the MMD.He said he was a strong Catholic Christian who believes that a man should be married to a woman.

He said homosexuality was a nuisance that could not be legalised in Zambia.

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Zukas demands Kunda’s resignation

Zukas demands Kunda’s resignation
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 08 Apr. 2011, 04:01 CAT

GEORGE Kunda must resign for wasting public resources and time over the failed Constitution of Zambia bill, says Simon Zukas. Zukas, who is a veteran politician, said President Rupiah Banda was badly advised by Vice-President Kunda to continue with the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).

“In the light of his dismal failure to have the NCC proposals adopted in Parliament, after all the expense and waste of time, the decent thing for George Kunda to do is offer his resignation to the President,” Zukas stated.

“That would enhance our democracy and set a precedent for political morality in our affairs. Since George seems reluctant to do the decent thing, the President knows the right step to take.”

Zukas said that President Banda could then present the Mung'omba proposals to an assembly reflecting all sectors of the nation, including the civil society, for adoption of a people-driven constitution.

“This can later go to Parliament to be enacted. A referendum for the items in the Bill of Rights can still be organised together with general elections. The Zambian people want a decent new constitution urgently and are ready for this process,” he said.

Looking into history since the re-introduction of multiparty politics, Zukas said that Frederick Chiluba had the Mwanakatwe proposals for a new constitution but he stopped people in Cabinet from adopting most of the recommendations, and pushed through only a few that suited him.

He said that this was followed by the resignation of people like himself and Dipak Patel. “The late president Levy Mwanawasa was wrong to agree to have George Kunda set up the NCC to work out a new constitution when we already had the Mung'omba proposals reflecting what the Zambian people wanted. George continued to be the driving force behind the NCC,” Zukas said.

On the government's insistence that PF and UPND shot down the will of the people, Zukas said the government shot the bill themselves by neglecting the Mung'omba proposals. He said the opposition did not vote against the will of the people because people had already expressed their will through the Mung'omba recommendation.

Zukas said President Banda's government should take the blame over the failure.

He said the nation had not lost out on anything following the shooting down of the bill.

“In fact, the nation has gained because if that bill went through it would have delayed us having a proper constitution, people-driven constitution. So by shooting it down, we have gained,” Zukas said.

“It is not so much that there were items that would have worked against the people. It is what was left out. That was the real problem; 50 + 1, social rights were not there.”

On government's position that they would reinstate the bill if they were re-elected, Zukas said being re-elected into office did not necessarily mean gaining two-thirds majority required for the bill to go through.

On the upcoming general elections, Zukas said Zambians should vote for the political party that would do the least damage to national affairs.

On questions that the MMD should be re-elected back into office, Zukas responded: “I would dispute that the MMD has been in power for 20 years. What has been in power there is a shadow of the MMD. This is not the MMD that we formed on the basis of principles annunciated at Garden House. This is a hijacked MMD.”

However, Zukas said the one sphere where they had performed fairly well was the economy.

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Bishop Mchombo calls for reflection on constitition

Bishop Mchombo calls for reflection on constitition
By Christopher Miti in Chipata
Fri 08 Apr. 2011, 04:01 CAT

BISHOP William Mchombo says the defeat of the two constitutional bills in Parliament gives an opportune time to leaders to retreat and reflect on the need to deliver a truly people-driven constitution.

Commenting on the failure of the constitution draft bill to go through in Parliament, Bishop Mchombo, the Bishop in-charge of the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia, said it was unfortunate that a lot of taxpayers’ money was spent on the Constitution.

“The failure of the constitution draft bill to go through in Parliament is not what we as a nation can be proud of. It is very sad and unfortunate. It sends wrong signals to the outside world that we are not capable of managing our affairs when the opposite is very true seeing the collective intelligence that we have as a nation,” Bishop Mchombo said.

He said the Church, which boycotted the constitution-making process, had been vindicated.“And as much as the Church has been vindicated, it is really sad that colossal sums of taxpayers’ money were spent to receive submissions countrywide followed by the sitting of the NCC only to reach a dead end.

The money could have gone a long way in ameliorating the suffering of most of our people.

This is an opportune time for our leaders to retreat and reflect on the need to deliver a truly people-driven constitution. People spoke through the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission and are tired of piecemeal amendments to the national document,” said Bishop Mchombo.

Bishop Mchombo, who is the former Zambia Anglican Council presiding Bishop, is part of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) which boycotted the National Constitution Conference.

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UN coordinator explains PVT

UN coordinator explains PVT
By Moses Kuwema
Fri 08 Apr. 2011, 04:12 CAT

UNITED Nations resident coordinator Kanni Wignaraja says she does not understand what the big fuss on Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) is all about. In an interview, Wignaraja said PVT was all about tabulating the already announced results that were in public domain.

“Countries decide whether to go with using Parallel Vote Tabulation as one mechanism to just aggregate votes that are already counted and in the public domain, I can't say I understand at all what the big fuss is about. One way or the other because some countries prefer that they will use it, other countries prefer that they will go around with papers and pencils and just write down the elections, most countries do it with cell phones,” Wignaraja said.

“Now the key to me is not the conversation around PVT, the conversation is the primacy of both the vote count and reporting of the results and announcing results is to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, no one else because the ECZ is the constitutionally, well-established and well-regarded principal and that is what is paramount.”

And Wignaraja said the media has a big role to play in ensuring a very credible, open and transparent election. She said this called for responsible reporting. She said the media also had a role to play in voter education in order for people to exercise their rights to vote and that they could only do this if they understood issues by looking at their challenges and their opportunities.

“People need to know what they are voting for and this is a critical role of the media, they should report on the progress achieved, where things need to be pushed in a very responsible manner. That is the critical role of the media in an electoral process,” Wignaraja said.

She said the key for the UN systems in Zambia was ensuring that the process of democracy keeps on getting stronger.

“We shall continue to be here through to elections to come and all the local and international organisations, both state and none-state, engage actively in the electoral process,” said Wignaraja.

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ZCTU backs PVT

ZCTU backs PVT
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 09 Apr. 2011, 04:00 CAT

PARALLEL vote tabulation is a good election monitoring tool which can help remove current suspicions against the Electoral Commission of Zambia, says ZCTU.

During a briefing at their headquarters yesterday, following the consultative meeting that was held on Thursday with affiliates, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Leonard Hikaumba said the PVT system had been successfully used in other countries without any negative consequences such as violence and mistrust among the contending political parties.

“The consultative meeting with affiliates yesterday Thursday resolved that PVT is a good election monitoring tool but requires proper management and knowledge on its advantages by a all participants through effective dialogue. It is a very important election methodology which has been used in many countries including Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique and in Zambia it was used in 2008,” Hikaumba said.

He said PVT was an important monitoring tool that could help in the credibility of election results as it was intended to deter fraud in the electoral process.

And on the failed constitution bill, ZCTU and its affiliates resolved that the issue needed to be re-tabled in Parliament after six months, with the inclusion of contentious issues such as the 50 per cent plus one threshold for a winning candidate.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Truth about Zimbabwe, Sadc Troika Summit: Charamba

Truth about Zimbabwe, Sadc Troika Summit: Charamba
By: George Charamba
Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 12:36 am

FROM its inception in 1980 as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (Sadcc), Southern African Development Community (Sadc) was and has always operated as a consultative and consensual body.

Its structures, procedures and leadership style have and are all subordinated towards this one core mores. No one knows this better than President Robert Mugabe, himself a founder President of this sub-regional body, and a major player in most of its anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggles in the 1980s and 1990s, himself a major actor in most of its conflict prevention, management and resolution efforts during and after these defining struggles.

There is no compelling reason for Sadc to depart from this winning approach which has turned our sub-region into both a haven of peace and an organisational exemplar.

Since the late nineties and especially after 2000, in the context of the Third Chimurenga for the restoration of national land rights, Zimbabwe has fought for the recognition of its right full rights as an independent and sovereign African State.

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It has done so within the context of the larger family of Sadc. Indeed, its victories on this crucial front against neo-colonial forces are, to a significant extent, explained by the principled stance which Sadc has consistently adopted, in keeping with the founding pan-African, libertarian ideals that animated its predecessor organisation, the Frontline States (FLS).

Zimbabwe stands to enjoy more victories in this continuing fight for national empowerment by working within the familial context of Sadc. As a founder member of Sadc and a geo-economic part of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe finds neither the reason nor the wish to rescind its membership or to conduct its struggles and affairs in a manner that repudiates Sadc. Zimbabwe's membership to Sadc is existential.

Zimbabwe's political challenges - themselves an offshoot of its strong affirmative stance on all-round sovereignty - have been a concern of Sadc from their onset.

No year has passed without a Sadc initiative or pronouncement on Zimbabwe, with the decision to appoint South Africa under former President Thabo Mbeki as facilitator of the inter-party political dialogue, amounting to a culmination of this characteristic engagement.

The point to emphasise is that both the recommendation for dialogue on Zimbabwe, and definition of mechanisms for operationalising that dialogue, came from Sadc through a searching process of consultation and consensus building. It is quite significant that Sadc chose to call its point-man on Zimbabwe, His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki, a facilitator and not something else more exhortative or even peremptory.

Gingerly, engagement and persuasion, as opposed to high-handed, intrusive diplomacy, is the correct way, is the winning way, indeed is the Sadc way! Read against this well-founded and established mores and etiquette, the Sadc Troika Summit held last Thursday in Livingstone, Zambia, was somewhat of an anomaly from this tried and tested Sadc tradition.

The meeting, which was slotted for early Thursday morning, started just after midday - a delay which was graciously and convincingly explained by host President and Chairman of the Troika, His Excellency President Rupiya Banda. He knew that President Mugabe was coming to spend a night in Livingstone - itself literally a stone's throw away from Victoria Falls - both out of respect and to ensure he would not delay the meeting.

President Mugabe's submission to Sadc and total respect for the sister Republic of Zambia - itself host to our liberation - can thus not be doubted. After the opening and lunch, the real meeting actually began close to 1500hrs, initially bringing together Troika members of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation who are Zambia (Organ Troika Chairman), Mozambique (past Chairman of the Organ Troika) and Namibia (Chairman of Sadc).

South Africa wore two hats of deputy chairman of the Organ and facilitator of the Zimbabwe Inter-Party Political Dialogue. The Summit itself focused on two situations, that in Madagascar and that in Zimbabwe, with former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano as facilitator for Madagascar.

The meeting of the Organ went on well into the evening, and it was not until after 2000hrs that the principals and leaders of Zimbabwe's three political parties were called in. I am referring to President Mugabe (Zanu-PF), Prime Minister Tsvangirai (MDC-T), and according to the wording of the communiqué, Professor Welshman Ncube as president of MDC-N, and Professor Mutambara as Deputy Prime Minister.

It is interesting that the communiqué recognised all these players by their official designation in the inclusive Government, and stayed clear of any controversies related to party representations. Except for Professor Mutambara, each of the principals had in tow his team of negotiators and officials.

Soon after, President Banda as chairman of the troika addressed the Zimbabwe leadership, apprising it on troika deliberations founded on a report which President Zuma as facilitator had tabled.

Basing its deliberations on both the facilitator's report and other decisions Sadc had taken on Zimbabwe in the past; the chairman then spelt out the decisions which the troika had taken on that day on Zimbabwe.

Thereafter, he opened the floor firstly to Zimbabweans and later to the rest of the group. Since Zimbabwe is not a member of the troika, I am not at liberty to disclose what followed. Suffice it to say all parties to the GPA spoke to the meeting and its decisions.

Soon after and that evening, President Mugabe, in the company of Ministers Mnangagwa, Goche, Chinamasa, Mumbengegwi and Biti, left Zambia for home.

The following morning, on Friday, the President addressed the Central Committee meeting of his party, Zanu (PF), at which meeting he publicly rejected dictation to Zimbabwe by the troika, as opposed to facilitation. Expectedly, Saturday press carried screaming headlines of varying accuracy and emotions. Arguably, the most dramatic headline came from NewsDay which read: "Sadc can go to hell - Mugabe".

You looked in vain in the body of the NewsDay story for a quote on the President which captures the headline.

It was a marketing headline, not a reflection of what the President actually had said in his address.

Besides, the President was addressing the troika of Sadc, not Sadc itself whose membership is more than the four countries which attended the Livingstone meeting.

The troika itself reports to Sadc Summit. The two should never be conflated.

Clearly and unambiguously, the anvil of President Mugabe's address related to procedures and style.

He was making a procedural point vis-à-vis a committee of Sadc, a point stirred by what he saw as a clear, unexplained and arguably inexplicable departure from Sadc norms and practices.

He never ever addressed the substance of the communiqué itself and, as will be clear shortly, Zimbabwe has very little difficulties with the communiqué itself. In fact, it has no difficulties at all, merely cautionary concerns with one or two of its proposals.

But something grossly untoward and uncharacteristic happened in Livingstone which Zimbabwe found quite objectionable.

The facilitator's report on the strength of which Summit decisions were made, was not availed to parties to the GPA, at least in the meeting.

What we have are decisions of Summit whose founding premise we do not officially know.

All we know from the communiqué is that the facilitator's report was "frank". How frank and over what, no one among parties to the GPA officially knows. How accurate and founded on what consultations, again no one officially knows beyond the communiqué intimation that the facilitator was "commended" for "the work he has been doing on behalf of Sadc", and that the troika "endorsed the report of the Sadc Facilitation on Zimbabwe."

And this procedural anomaly was raised in the short opportunity availed to the Zimbabwe political leadership by the way.

There were more worrisome procedural anomalies preceding that Summit.

On the eve of the Summit, it emerged that two of the three parties to the GPA had been invited by the facilitating team to make individual submissions on a roadmap for Zimbabwe's possible political future.

Such a request was not only unfair and divisive, but actually departed from a set, consensual procedure where all parties produce a joint review and mapping document for submission to the facilitator.

Fortuitously, a meeting towards that end had been called early in the week of the Livingstone Summit. It was at that meeting that it emerged that two parties to the GPA had in fact made individual submissions to the facilitating team at its behest, a development which advertently or inadvertently amounted to implying divisions and irreconcilable differences between or among the political parties.

Far from that being the case, the negotiating teams of the parties were in communication and actually looking forward to joint work.

Noteworthy, negotiators of the three parties met this Monday, three days after Livingstone, to review progress in the implementation of the GPA, something they would have done had it not been for the dates of the Livingstone Summit which intervened.

Additionally, the parties are set to meet today, Wednesday, to now produce a roadmap which is closely aligned to timelines of the GPA to the extent that these are still feasible.

All have resisted a self-invitation by the facilitating team to fly in today in order to be part of the review and drafting of a roadmap.

The consensus view is that the team will be invited once this internal process is complete, or if it falters.

This is exactly the exercise which would have produced a report for the facilitating team ahead of Livingstone, but which was circumscribed by circumstances I have already described. Facilitation proceeds on due care and consensus. It cannot be arbitrary, preclusive or a matter of dictation. That antagonises parties.

Above all, it should assist interaction of differing parties, not substitute or abort it.

And in the case of Zimbabwe, facilitation has been by invitation, specifically in those instances where internal, inter-party dialogue and consensus will have failed.

That happened repeatedly under President Mbeki's tenure, which is how we have come this far.

As matters stand, all the parties had in fact addressed the same concerns a week or so before at a special cabinet meeting convened for the purpose.

The Prime Minister tabled a report which highlighted areas of concern, leading to a decision to have a series of special cabinet meetings dedicated to dealing with actual matters of the GPA and other environmentals.

The point to stress is national platforms are being used to resolve nagging issues, itself clear proof that we are well before and well away from a deadlock, indeed that we are within mutual trust and confidence.

One does not want to see that burgeoning internal conflict prevention, management and resolution mechanism delayed or even destroyed by incautious external facilitation.

Ultimately Zimbabweans must be the first line of resolving their own problems, including developing mechanisms for such resolution.

Livingstone should nurture and augment this national capacity building through careful facilitation.

In terms of substance, the Livingstone communiqué amounted to one huge step forward towards resolving problems in Zimbabwe. This precisely is what makes a compelling case for proper procedures and fitting respect to all involved.

There was no need to keep documents away from parties.

There was absolutely no reason not to hear formal presentations from all parties prior to arriving at decisions.

Nations are sovereign; nations do have sensitivities and boundaries beyond which solicitous facilitation becomes irritating intrusive dictation. We know this from protracted negotiations on Mozambique; we know this from the protracted negotiations on Angola; we know this from the DRC conflict; we know this from problems in Lesotho where a facilitator was actually rejected and dropped.

More fundamentally, we know this from South Africa's own Convention for a Democratic South Africa, Codesa for short.

I said the Livingstone communiqué marks a quantum leap forward. It does. It abhors violence which it blames on all parties to the GPA.

This is consistent with the facts on the ground and consistent with the findings of Jomic which blames all parties for spurts of violence we have witnessed in the country.

It calls on "all parties to the GPA" to implement "all the provisions of the GPA", itself quite in sync with calls inside the country, especially on sanctions, external interference and intrusive broadcasts, all of which have stood in the way of "a conducive environment for peace, security and free political activity" desired by Sadc on our behalf. More fundamentally, the communiqué exhorts the inclusive Government to "complete all the steps necessary for the holding of the election including the finalisation of the constitutional amendment and the referendum."

The accent is on finalisation of the constitutional process, something Zanu (PF) and the President have been agitating for.

The endgame is elections, again something all parties must accept as an unavoidable pang of the routines of democracy.

That means the Minister and Ministry of Finance can no longer delay or under-fund Copac without falling foul to the dictates of the Livingstone Troika communiqué.

That means Zanu (PF)'s call for elections has now been endorsed by the Troika.

Penultimately, the Troika is urging Sadc to assist Zimbabwe towards peaceful, free and fair elections by ensuring polls that are held under Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

As a matter of fact, these guidelines are already domesticated and are now part of our electoral laws. This cannot be an onerous demand, surely?

Zimbabwe cannot be opposed to, or pained by what it has voluntarily adopted and already incorporated into its national laws.

The final decision relates to a team of officials appointed by the Troika of the Organ to assist Facilitation Team and Jomic "to ensure monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the GPA."

Of the three parties to the GPA, only MDC-T endorsed this proposal unconditionally.

MDC accepted the principle of it, but insisted it would be guided by its terms of reference.

Zanu (PF) would neither accept nor reject the proposed team for the simple reason that it was not privy to the reasoning behind its founding. Nor were its parameters spelt out to it. Accepting it meant embracing an unknown, something responsible and experienced leaders can never do.

And going by the President's Friday reaction, the test lies in the tone of the proposed body, which should never be one of dictation.

The accent on Zimbabwe's reaction to the Livingstone Summit has thus been on procedures and style of managing facilitation and engagement by the Troika. It has not been on substance. That is quite far off from making or breaking Sadc.

Matters must be reported in proportion.

Lastly, a lot of dire reading has been made out of this week's Sunday Mail editorial comment and an opinion piece it carried on the same matter. The opinion of the Sunday Mail has been conflated with the opinion of the Government of Zimbabwe.

I hope this article which reflects views and concerns of the Government of Zimbabwe puts this needless conflation to rest.

No one in Government is naïve enough to think that the views of SABC stations or The Citizen amount to the views of President Zuma and/or his Government.

It is not very clever to wilfully expunge institutional distinctions we honour and uphold elsewhere simply because we are dealing with Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Government has a voice that speaks when it is necessary. Like it has just done!

The writer is the Presidential Spokesman and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity.

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(NYASATIMES) MCA student crowned Malawi News Model 2011

MCA student crowned Malawi News Model 2011
By Nyasa Times
Published: April 9, 2011

Gladys Kumbatira is the new Malawi News Model of the Year. She was announced winner after beating thirteen other girls at a highly contested event at Mount Soche Hotel in the commercial city Blantyre on Friday night.

The 19-year-old Ndirande-based Gladys, who is in Theo Thomson’s music video ‘Kutentha’ and Maskal’s ‘Wa CV’, is a Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA) student; she is doing her diploma in PAEC.

A panel of three judges, headed by MultiChoice Malawi’s Chimwemwe Nyirenda settled for Lorato Angelina Chalimba, 20, and Dorothy Kamoto, 19, as First and Second Princess, respectively.

The girls paraded in executive, traditional and evening wear before the judges Nyirenda, Stella Hara and Rachael Mijiga, as well as the cheerful audience in the colorful Njamba room, outclassing each other’s style to claim the crown from the outgoing model of the year 2009, Tina Kendricks.

As winner, among other prizes, Gladys walked away with a total of K150,000 coming from Malawi Savings Bank and PACT College, who also gave her a one-year college scholarship in any course of her choice.

Lorato, the First Princess, who was also selected by fellow contestants as Miss Personality, carted home K70,000 and K10,000 from PACT. And as Second Princess, Dorothy received K50,000 from PACT.

The newly crowned Malawi News Model of the Year 2010 will also get K150,000 from the event organizers, Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), which will be channeled to charity.

“This is not her personal money. We should all get it clear here that the winner will use this money for any of her charity work,” announced Radio 2 FM’s Ephraim Nyirenda, who co-hosted the ceremony alongside Capital FM’s Tamanda Mbendera.

In an interview with Nyasa Times soon after winning the crown, the tall-slender model said: “Though I can’t believe it [that I have won], I feel so good and honoured. It was a stiff competition and it wasn’t easy for me.”

Gladys said she would use her title and the funds from BNL to work with people with “special cases”, singling out the eastern lakeshore district of Mangochi, saying there are a lot of girls that don’t go to school due to poverty and teenage pregnancies.

“They need role models for motivation and this title will take me there as a role model. I want to reach out to my fellow young girls,” she said.

And concurring with the young model, guest of honour Martha Kwataine, Executive Director of Malawi Healthy Equity Network (MHEN), who spoke earlier on, said there was need to support initiatives that empower young girls such as the modeling competition by BNL.

“My appeal to the private sector is that we should all come together and support such initiatives. There are a lot of young girls in the villages that need to be empowered and exposed,” said Kwataine.

Saying “we need young girls in activism”, Kwataine observed modeling was “not just beauty, there is more you can do in the communities. We need young women that can stand for the truth without fear.”

She advised the contesting models and others, as she looked at the reigning Miss Malawi Faith Chibale, who also graced the function “not be associated with gossip and loose behavior.”

“Respect the needs and rights of others,” she said while on the other hand pointing out that “to become a great woman, young girls must be prepared to face challenges.”

BNL, publishers of the Daily Times, Weekend Times, Malawi News and the Sunday Times newspapers introduced the modeling competition in 2006 as one way of giving Malawian girls the opportunity to launch their modeling careers.

This year, the event was sponsored by PACT, Malawi Savings Bank, Mapeto DWHS, Unilever and Gold Card Executive Lodge, among others.—(Repoting by Kimpho Loka, Nyasa Times)



(TALKZIMBABWE) $1 campaign, MDC-T desperate for election funds

$1 campaign, MDC-T desperate for election funds
By: Samantha Chidzero
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 4:44 am

THE MDC-T party led by Morgan Tsvangirai is agitating for a delay in the general elections as it has no funds to finance a nationwide election campaign across the country, it has emerged. The party has been on a regional offensive to try a delay the plebiscite to buy time to raise funds.

Tsvangirai has also made various attempts at delaying the election by claiming that there is no "existence of electoral conditions that will not produce another contested outcome" and that the decision to hold elections is made by the prime minister and the president.

Ironically, Tsvangirai has also made claims that the inclusive Government is not functional.

He recently commented: "The inclusive Government has demonstrated over the past six months that it is dysfunctional that I can concede."

Last month Tsvangirai visited regional leaders in the run up to the Sadc Troika meeting in Livingstone (Zambia) and told them about unsubstantiated claims of political violence in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai has not brought up the issue in Cabinet meetings he attends weekly which are chaired by President Robert Mugabe.

Last month President Mugabe convened a Special Cabinet meeting in which he urged the MDC-T to present to him with a detailed report of all cases of Zanu-PF violence against MDC-T members. The party failed to present such a report or cite specific cases of politically motivated violence.

The party’s funding has dwindled as their allies in the west are no longer able to fund them at the scale they did in previous election periods as they are facing problems in their own countries.

Portugal’s government resigned after parliament rejected austerity measures. There are also problems in Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Britain's economic growth will lag behind five of the G7 countries in the second quarter of this year, only outperforming disaster-struck Japan, according to a report from influential western think-tank OECD.

Despite being illegal under the Political Parties Finance Act 1992 where there is no provision for the financing of political parties in Zimbabwe, the MDC-T has enjoyed huge funding from the US and Britain and other western countries.

The Act provides for state funding of political parties which hold 15 seats in Parliament or more.

The MDC-T has, however, resorted to other “desperate means” to raise funds, including the launching of an anti Zanu-PF website, which will be run by treasurer general, Roy Bennett. Bennett is calling for $1 donations to the MDC-T towards the next elections.

Bennett has also been been given a new role by the MDC-T under the so-called “global advocacy programme”, in which he will engage the US and EU ‘directly’ to raise funds.

Bennett recently revealed that he had to leave Zimbabwe as that would have left the MDC-T unable to raise funds for the elections.

He told a pirate radio station that “... sitting in prison in Zimbabwe ... will be of no use to anybody. I decided to remain in exile in South Africa.”

He added that the MDC-T party “held a workshop in South Africa where it was decided that I would be based in the UK where I would set up a ‘global advocacy programme’ ... to assist in raising funds.”

Bennett also revealed that the MDC-T party will hold a “Free Zimbabwe” concert in South Africa to raise funds “towards the next elections”.

Bennett’s revelations will put to rest MDC-T claims that it raises its funds for election campaigns via efforts within Zimbabwe.

The party has since revived its deeply divided UK and Ireland Province which had been in hibernation for the last two years, in order to raise funds for the election period. The MDC-T’s National Chairman, Lovemore Moyo and Women's Assembly chairperson, Theresa Makone, were deployed to oversee the revival of UK structures in Leeds on Saturday April 2 2011.

MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa is on record saying that their election campaigns are financed via membership fees and other in-country fundraising efforts.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) MDC-T stalling constitutional exercise: Zanu-PF

MDC-T stalling constitutional exercise: Zanu-PF
By: Ralph Mutema
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 4:59 am

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party says the MDC-T in deliberately derailing the progress of the constitution-making process for reasons best known to that party. The completion of the constitution making process is expected to pave way for elections as was agreed in the Global Political Agreement in September 2008.

The Constitution Parliamentary Committee (Copac) has indicated that elections are possible in September as there had been an injection of cash enough to help complete the exercise.

Copac has about US$9 million in their coffers, but the constitution-making process is said to be failing to move into the thematic committees’ stage due to excuses mainly from the MDC-T co-chairperson, Douglas Mwonzora.

Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Rugare Gumbo said they are disappointed with the reports they are getting from Copac.

Gumbo said they had been briefed that the uploading stage had been completed and workshops to train thematic committees’ rapportuers were supposed to have begun on Monday the 4th of April, but still nothing has taken off.

Last week in Livingstone, Zambia, the SADC Troika on Politics, Defence and Security stated that the inclusive Government should complete all the steps necessary for the holding of elections, including the finalisation of the constitutional amendment and the holding of a referendum.

Reports suggest that the MDC-T is stalling the process because the party is broke and cannot mount a nationwide campaign against Zanu-PF. Its funding has dwindled and its souvenir shop at Harvest House in Harare is not generating enough funds to mount an election campaign.

Because of the economic downturn, many MDC-T members are also not paying their membership fees.

MDC-T tresurer general Roy Bennett has moved from South Africa to Britain to fundraise for the party.

The MDC-T is also planning to hold a so-called "Free Zimbabwe" concert in South Africa to raise election funds.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Chinese company produces 1mln carats

Chinese company produces 1mln carats
By: Our reporter
Posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 5:15 am

CHINESE mining company Anjin has produced 1 million carats of diamonds so far from a mine in Marange district. The diamonds are currently awaiting approval by the global diamond regulator, the Kimberley Process.

Anjin, the second Chinese mining company operating in the Marange area, started mining in October last year.

Government says it has sold $313 million worth of diamonds produced by two companies in Marange since last year.

There are five firms with licences to operate in Marange, two of them Chinese.

"Anjin are stockpiling, and they now have about 1 million carats.

"They are now waiting for inspection and certification from the Kimberly Process to start exporting," Gift Chimanikire, deputy mines minister said on Thursday..

Government, meanwhile, has said companies in Marange, including Anjin, will be exempt from regulations published last month that require mining companies to submit plans on how they intend to transfer control of a majority of shares to indigenous people within six months.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

(HERALD) Violence - MDC-T caught in act

COMMENT - With the 2011 elections coming up, the international media is going to make a lot of 'ZANU-PF violence' in order to delegitimize the elections in case President Mugabe wins. However, a lot if not most violence comes from the MDC. They have the most to gain by it, because their popularity is falling, and as neoliberals, they have no other ideology than greed. Also see: Khupe sucked in Bulawayo violence

Violence: MDC-T caught in act
Crime Reporter
Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:14

SOME rowdy MDC-T youths who were part of a group that was unveiling tombstones at Warren Hills Cemetery ran amok on Wednesday afternoon and attacked several mourners, including Zanu-PF supporters who wanted to bury a colleague.

According to a police report, four policemen were injured while four commuter omnibuses, a marked police vehicle and several other cars in the cemetery were damaged by the stone throwing youths.

According to a witness identified as Mr Madende, they had gone to the cemetery to bury one of his workers who died after being knocked down by a car along Simon Mazorodze Road when the MDC-T youths attacked them.

The late Farai alias Fatso was a conductor for one of the commuter omnibuses owned by Mr Madende.

"When we arrived at the cemetery, we were shocked to see over 300 MDC-T supporters and buses offloading several others," Mr Madende said.

He said a few minutes later, the MDC-T youths became rowdy and charged towards them while in the process of burying Farai.

Mr Madende said some of the mourners were attacked while others fled.

Two commuter omnibuses belonging to Mr Madende had their windows shattered while three other vehicles - a Volvo, Nissan Sunny and a Nissan Hardbody truck - were also damaged.

Police were informed and when they rushed to the scene to investigate, they were also attacked and their Ford Ranger truck was damaged.

Reinforcements were called in but they were stoned by the youths.

"The youths were singing and chanting MDC-T slogans while there were also people who were taking photographs and video filming the incidents," Mr Madende said.

When the violence started, he said, MDC-T leaders Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Mr Tendai Biti disappeared from the scene and did not warn their supporters to desist from such acts.

The supporters later disappeared after riot police was called in to calm the situation.

No arrests were made.

Mr Madende said several mourners were injured and one of them, a tout, is reported to be in a serious condition and admitted in hospital.

However, the private media yesterday alleged that scores of Zanu-PF youths besieged Warren Hills cemetery where Mr Tsvangirai was unveiling tombstones on the graves of five MDC-T supporters, disrupting proceedings.

It was alleged that the youths arrived in commuter omnibuses and chased away people who had come for the ceremonies.

But Harare provincial police spokes person Inspector James Sabau yesterday said when the mourners arrived at the cemetery, some MDC-T youths that were already there thought they were their colleagues.

"They then started to direct the convoy so that they will park their vehicles near where they had grouped. After some of the mourners disembarked, they discovered that they were MDC-T supporters and rushed back to their vehicle," he said.

Insp Sabau said the MDC-T youths identified some Zanu-PF supporters in the process and started throwing stones towards them.

He said the mourners and Zanu-PF supporters escaped and a report was made to the police who went to the scene.

"That is when one of the MDC-T youths hit the fender of the police vehicle, damaging it. The youths started throwing stones at the police before the reaction group was called in but they continued," he said.

Tear smoke was then used to disperse them.

Insp Sabau said they condemned unprovoked violence at all costs and would not hesitate to arrest anyone, without fear or favour.

On Wednesday, PM Tsvangirai was quoted describing Zanu-PF "as merchants of death" and alleged that there was continued violence in the country.

He also attacked Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri for alleged selective application of the law

Last month, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri warned unruly elements behind political violence that the force was ready and out in full force to maintain law and order.

He said the force was going to remain resilient and very tough on the ground.
Comm-Gen Chihuri's sentiments came in the wake of political violence, which was being perpetrated by the MDC-T in and around the city.

He said some of the people were stage managing violence and created chaos to give an impression that there was mayhem and anarchy in the country.

Recent investigations by the police revealed that the MDC-T was behind some of the political violence being perpetrated in and around the city this year.

In a statement, chief police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said the force would not be deterred in the discharge of its constitutional duties and would not need anyone to remind them of their obligations.
He assured the people that they were prepared to thwart any one bent on causing mayhem and anarchy in the country.

President Mugabe is on record calling on his partners in the inclusive Government to organise joint meetings with the Zanu-PF leadership to encourage rival party
supporters to desist from political violence.

The President's call is still to be heeded.

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(HERALD) Khupe sucked in Bulawayo violence

Khupe sucked in Bulawayo violence
Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:14
Bulawayo Bureau

SCORES of MDC-T supporters in some Bulawayo suburbs are reportedly living in fear following an escalation of intra-party violence that has reportedly sucked in Deputy Prime Minister and Makokoba legislator, Ms Thokozani Khupe.

The DPM's bodyguards allegedly assaulted a party supporter at Macdonald Hall in Makokoba on Sunday and left him for dead. DPM Khupe has dismissed the allegations.

Since the infighting that erupted at a party restructuring meeting at Macdonald Hall, factions vying for the party's chairpersonship in the province have allegedly hired gangsters to beat up rivals.

MDC-T will hold its congress at Babourfields Stadium in May and supporters fear violence will erupt.

The battle between Senator Matson Hlalo of Mzilikazi and Mr Gorden Moyo, a junior party member who Mr Morgan Tsvangirai plucked from obscurity and seconded to Cabinet in the inclusive Government, for the provincial chairmanship has reportedly resulted in violent campaigns.

Sen Hlalo is the provincial vice-chair.

On Sunday night, at least three MDC-T members were reportedly attacked by unknown assailants.

When our Bulawayo Bureau went to interview victims of the violence, most of them had locked their doors and refused to speak before seeing identification.

"We do not know who you are. The party might have sent you to beat us up. Bhara (a party youth) was stabbed on Sunday night by thugs that I think were hired by Ms Khupe.

"We are all now living in fear," said a woman from Mzilikazi who begged not to be identified.

She said DPM Khupe's bodyguards allegedly kicked Mr Raymond Nyamafene down the steps at the entrance to Macdonald Hall, resulting in him sustaining serious injuries.

He was not treated at the United Bulawayo Hospitals because he had no money.

Another party member, who spoke without opening the screen door to her house, said she no longer knew who to trust after her friend was attacked.

"My Friend, Ruth Mbedzi, was hit with an iron bar on Sunday night, at the gate to her home in Makokoba.

"Her neck is stiff and swollen. She failed to get medical attention because she had no money," said the youth.

"I think Sen Hlalo is responsible for the assault because his friend, (MDC-T councillor) James Sithole of Ward 7 promptly got her arrested when she came from hospital yesterday (Tuesday).

DPM Khupe said there was no substance to the allegations.

"Those are lies peddled by the party's political enemies. If my guys assaulted people, why were they not arrested?

"There are no divisions within the party as you people like to imply," she said.
DPM Khupe had a brush with the law last year after she allegedly assaulted a policeman at a roadblock.

Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri this year told Parliamentarians that the force had essentially let DPM Khupe off the hook though it was clear she had committed a crime.

Sen Hlalo said people intent on tarnishing the party's image were making up the stories.

"We are a democratic party and there are no divisions in our structures. There is no reason for us to fight and I will never sponsor violence.

"On Sunday, both Gorden (Moyo) and myself were barred by the party leadership from being anywhere near the meeting.

"Whoever spoke to you was making up a story to make the party look bad."

On Sunday, a brawl broke out at Macdonald Hall in Mzilikazi and another later on at Stanley Hall, where the party was having provincial restructuring exercises for Makokoba district in preparation for the congress.

There are also reports of violence in MDC-T in some parts of the country including Masvingo and Mashonaland West.

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(HERALD) Millenium Tobacco holds inaugural sale

Millenium Tobacco holds inaugural sale
Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:11
Agriculture Reporters

VICE President Joice Mujuru joins the Mbare Chimurenga Choir on the dance floor at a field day held at Mapunga Farm in Bindura yesterday. The farm is owned by Zanu-PF Mashonaland Central provincial chairman Cde Dickson Mafios.

MILLENIUM Tobacco Auction Floors held its first tobacco sale in Harare on Wednesday with prices ranging from US$0,80 to US$4,50 per kg. MTF chairman, Mr Hillary Mombeshora, said the quality of the leaf was good especially as most of the first bales sold were from seasoned commercial farmers.

"There is a blend of commercial, communal and small-scale farmers coming here but the quality is very good," he said.

By 9am, 1 903 bales had already been sold and farmers interviewed said they were happy with the prices and the service.

"The prices are good though there is need for the lowest grade to fetch at least a dollar or slightly above to allow the farmer to at least salvage something," a farmer from Hurungwe said.

Mr Mombeshora, however, indicated that prices were bound to firm as more deliveries came in.

"At the moment, we are holding a single sale of 3 600 bales per day while we put final touches to all the facilities on the premises. We will increase the tonnage gradually," he said.

"At the moment the receiving system is being run manually, which is slowing the process a bit but will soon be automated," said MTF marketing director Ms Kudzai Hamadziripi.

She said once everything was in place, they had the capacity to handle more than one auction per day. There are 13 buyers at the floor. Ms Hamadziripi said they were strict on bookings and always made sure that every farmer brought in booked tobacco.

"TIMB charges a penalty of US$20 for every bale that passes the auction floors without being booked and that charge comes to us so we make it a point that we encourage all farmers to pre-book their tobacco.

"There is a TIMB satellite office here where they can make bookings before auctioning," she said.

She also added that MTF had built 20 toilets at the floor while banks such as CBZ, ZABG, Kingdom and Trust are available on the premises to assist farmers get their cash immediately after selling their crop.

"We also have running showers, a canteen and tent for those farmers sleeping over before selling their tobacco," she said.

TIMB chief executive Dr Andrew Matibiri said the opening of MTF would go a long way towards easing congestion at the country's three other auction floors - Boka Tobacco Floors, Tobacco Sales Floor and Tian Ze.

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(HERALD) Sanctions won’t deter us — Georgias

Sanctions won’t deter us — Georgias
Thursday, 07 April 2011 22:10
Herald Reporter

THE illegal economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West will not prevent the Government from pursuing policies and implementing projects that will improve the lives and welfare of the people, Deputy Minister of Public Works, Senator Aguy Georgias has said. Sen Georgias said this on Wednesday while touring the newly completed Gokwe North District Hospital.

"The project started way back in 1999, but due to lack of funding caused by the punitive illegal sanctions imposed on us by the United States, Britain and their friends in the European Union, we could not carry on," he said.

Sen Georgias said the construction of the hospital was a sign that the Government attached great importance to the provision of health care services to the people despite the economic hardships faced.

Sen Georgias said it was only the Government, through President Mugabe that would bring real and meaningful change to the people of Zimbabwe.

He said this was being done through affording the people access to health care, sanitation, education, employment, food and other social amenities.

"We had to find the money without fail for the sake of the people of Nembudziya and beyond.

"No matter how long it would take, we had to complete this work and here we are today," Sen Georgias said.

The project to construct the hospital was wholly funded by the Government with the Jiangsu Corporation of China providing engineering services.

The hospital is expected to open its doors to the public soon.

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(HERALD) ‘Zim has enough fertilisers’

‘Zim has enough fertilisers’
Thursday, 07 April 2011 20:49
Herald Reporter

Zimbabwe has enough stocks of fertilisers for the winter wheat season and producers have called on Government to clarify funding mechanisms to ensure farmers access inputs in time.

The managing director of the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Mr Richard Dafana, made these remarks yesterday during a tour of Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries' plant in Harare by the House of Assembly Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Water Lands and Resettlement.

"In discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture, the projection is that they (farmers) will do 45 000 hectares of wheat and barley and as an industry we have stocks of fertiliser to do more than that," he said.

Mr Dafana said his company had 12 000 tonnes of compound and 8 000 tonnes of top-dressing fertilisers. He said they expected to produce a further 16 000 tonnes of compound and 10 000 tonnes of top-dressing fertilisers by the end of May. Another manufacturer, Windmill, also has similar amounts in stock.

"The problem now is that the financing mechanisms for farmers are not there. While Government says they will go into the market nothing has been done yet and we do not want to do the last minute rush.

"The Ministry of Agriculture said there would be US$10 million but the disbursement modalities are not clear yet. We would want all the inputs to be at the door of the farmer by the beginning of May," he said. Mr Dafana said they were already looking at plans for the summer cropping season. Mr Misheck Kachere, the chief executive of Chemplex - the holding company of Zimphos, ZFC and Sable Chemicals - said he had been assured that there was enough fertiliser.

He said it was imperative that schemes like the one introduced by President Mugabe - Well-Wisher's Inputs initiative - be introduced to assist farmers.

Mr Kachere said Government should ensure farmers are paid fairly for their produce as this had an effect on demand for agricultural inputs.

He said they were currently operating at 35 percent of capacity but hoped to increase to 60 percent by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the General Laws Amendment Bill sailed through the House of Assembly yesterday.

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

(LUSAKATIMES) African States urged to massively develop their infrastructure

African States urged to massively develop their infrastructure
Thursday, April 7, 2011, 7:25

African Development Bank (ADB) has called for a massive infrastructural development on the continent. ADB Resident Representative for Zambia , Freddie Kwesiga says African States Should put in place measures to improve on road and other infrastructure development in order for Africa to have a medium to long term development thereby contribute towards poverty reduction.

Dr. Kwesiga said infrastructure development plays a key role in achieving economic development and fight poverty in Africa.

“ Major areas which needs attentions include transport, Information Communication Technology (ICT), agriculture, and social infrastructure, “ he said.

The 2011 World Bank study indicates that Zambia’s economic performance which has reached 7 percent growth rate needed to make a significant impact on poverty reduction. However, according to ADB representative , the Southern African country’s economy can improve to a middle income country if it invests in infrastructure.

Dr. Kwesiga said this in Lusaka today at the Expert Group Meeting which is reviewing the handbook on Infrastructure Statistics in Africa.

He has further called on donors and members countries to scientifically measure and quantify the contribution of infrastructure towards overall economic development.

He said the bank has started the process of developing an African specific index for measuring the progress towards the development of key infrastructure which is known as the Africa Infrastructure development index.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Sadc Troika meeting was a success, says Charamba

Sadc Troika meeting was a success, says Charamba
By: Floyd Nkomo
Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2011 6:42 am

PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson, George Charamba says contrary to media speculation the Sadc Troika meeting was a success, although there were procedural problems. He said the meeting held in Livingstone, Zambia had procedural problems, but these have since been ironed out.

Charamba applauded the Troika's condemnation of violence across the political divide and that the inclusive Government should fulfil all the GPA outstanding issues including the sanctions.

Online and international media had misinterpreted a Sadc report that condemned violence as directed against Zanu-PF. Charamba explained that opinion pieces did not constitute government position.

The former opposition MDC-T has also been fingured in acts of violence before and during election time. The two main parties in 2008 signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they bot admitted culpability for violence.

"The Troika condemned violence, it did not ascribe violence to any political party but emphasised that all parties should refrain from intimidation," said Charamba in an interview with our correspondent in Harare.

"It also exhorted parties to fully implement the GPA, which means the removal of sanctions and the completion of the constitution making process to pave way for the elections.

"So in summary, Livingstone was a success as it emphasised on issues that the President and every progressive Zimbabwean has always been advocating,” said Charamba.

The Troika emphasized that elections will herald the end of the inclusive Government, in other words it wants the money to be released quickly for the completion of the constitution making process, which will pave way for the referendum and the eventual holding of elections.

Charamba dismissed reports by private media alleging that President Mugabe told SADC to ‘go to hell,’ saying the reports are from those who do not wish the government well.

Charamba also said an opinion piece in the Sunday Mail newspaper is not a government opinion.

“That opinion does not represent the government position. Zimpapers is a public quoted company and it is not a government mouthpiece, the government has its own channels of communication and I am the Presidential Spokesperson,” he said.

The SADC Troika Summit resolved for the full implementation of the GPA and the creation of a conducive environment for peace and security in the country.

As a result, parties in the GPA are currently working on the compilation of a report on the progress of the implementation of the GPA following review meetings held by representatives of the parties on Monday and this Wednesday in Harare.

The reports will be handed to South African president, Jacob Zuma’s facilitating team, which is in the country at the invitation of the inclusive government.

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(NEWZIMBABWE) Rights groups threaten street protests

Rights groups threaten street protests
by Eddie Chihwape
07/04/2011 00:00:00

HUMAN rights group on Wednesday warned they would stage massive protests if security agents are unrelenting in their harassment of civic society leaders. The groups met at a Harare hotel where they discussed a recent crackdown on government critics.

Speaking under the banner of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku said it was time to stand up to police “brutality”.

“We have no reservations for mass protests regarding the abuse of human rights and arrests of activists in the country. What is happening to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is unacceptable and we’ll stand against it,” said Madhuku.

The threat to stage mass protests by civic society leaders follows the arrests of officials at the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, including executive director Abel Chikomo.

Chikomo is every week being called for questioning by police and his offices have been raided on more than three occasions.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has been documenting incidents of violence, torture and human rights violations by security agents and war veterans around the country.

Madhuku said: “What is happening at the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is unacceptable and we will stand against it. If you arrest one of us, you would have arrested all of us.”

Last week, the SADC Troika on Defence and Security came down heavy on President Robert Mugabe, demanding a cessation to violence against opposition groups, arbitrary arrest of opposition ministers and hate speech in the state media.

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(TALKZIMBABWE) Revolutionary spirits of Nehanda and Lobengula sting Sadc - Moyo

Revolutionary spirits of Nehanda and Lobengula sting Sadc: Moyo
By: Jonathan Moyo, MP
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 6:53 am

IF REGIME regime change consultants out there thought they would get away with sending a subliminal but pointed neo-colonial message to Zimbabweans by having Livingstone in Zambia as the ironic venue of last Thursday’s summit of the Sadc Troika on politics, defence and security co-operation, then they must have been stung by the revolutionary spirits of Mbuya Nehanda and King Lobengula which took hold of the colonially named city to remind the ghost of David Livingstone that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again by ensuring that the summit failed in a big way.

The roots of this failure are to be found in the incomprehensible fact that the Sadc mandarins kept the Zimbabwean delegation led by President Robert Mugabe waiting for the whole day until 8pm when the official session was convened for no more than an hour during which the troika reported its decisions without much dialogue, which is traditionally essential for the success of such summits.

This was despite the fact that President Mugabe’s delegation had arrived the previous day after having been informed that the summit would be held in the morning on Thursday.

The unprecedented anomaly was made worse by the fact that the report of the Sadc facilitator, President Jacob Zuma, on the political and security situation in Zimbabwe, was not shared with the Zimbabwean delegation before, during or after the summit.

Against this backdrop, it is no wonder that the summit ended in unmitigated failure not least because it lacked all the necessary political features and diplomatic ingredients that usually foreshadow a successful summit.

In effect, the Livingstone summit was one of the worst Sadc meetings on Zimbabwe in recent years which set a dangerous precedent whose trappings will make it very difficult for Sadc to play a meaningful role in the unfolding events in our country unless immediate and visible steps are taken by the regional group’s highest levels to reverse the anomaly and ensure that it does not repeat.

What this means is that notwithstanding the predictable claims that the summit was a huge success by Zimbabwe’s usual detractors in the media and among regime change donors that have imposed illegal economic sanctions that are causing untold suffering among ordinary Zimbabweans, the fact is that the summit was a catastrophic failure for Sadc simply and only because the Republic of Zimbabwe cannot implement or in any way be part of any external decision which comes as an imposition to the detriment of our national sovereignty.

That we will never do as Zimbabweans not least because we know that, within the confines of international law, no other self-respecting sovereign country, including those in Sadc, will ever do.

In this connection, there is one utterly sinister decision that the Sadc Troika made in Livingstone which must not see the light of day not only because it was made without prior consultation or subsequent agreement with the Republic of Zimbabwe but also because it is a clear and evil attempt to open a treacherous window for regime change donors to trample on our sovereignty in the vain hope of influencing the organisation and outcome of the forthcoming general election.

The offensive and unacceptable decision was cast in the following words under paragraph 17(e) of the troika’s communiqué issued last Thursday:

“The troika of the organ shall appoint a team of officials to join the Facilitation Team and work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to ensure monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the GPA.

The troika shall develop the Terms of Reference, time frames and provide regular progress report, the first, to be presented during the next Sadc extraordinary summit. Summit will review progress on the implementation of the GPA and take appropriate action.”

This intrusive decision is a nullity not only because it is an imposition with suspicious regime change roots but also because it is a blatant violation of the GPA itself, an unacceptable affront to Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

While some sell-outs and puppets have celebrated this so-called Sadc decision as if it has come from God in heaven, the fact is that it is not worth the paper it is written on because it cannot be implemented without the willingness and co-operation of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

If there is anybody out there in Sadc or elsewhere that imagines that the Republic of Zimbabwe will cooperate in implementing a decision that attacks its sovereignty, then that person is a lost cause because nothing of the sort will happen.

Ask any student of public policy and they will tell you that it is very dangerous for any authority anywhere to make a decision that it has no capacity to implement.

The so-called team of officials, that is proposed to join the Facilitation Team and to work with JOMIC in Zimbabwe, will need diplomatic and other facilitation by the Republic of Zimbabwe to be able to work in our country but this won’t happen, given how the decision for the team’s appointment and deployment has been made, let alone the motives thereof.

If past experiences in Zimbabwe and elsewhere are anything to go by, then nobody needs to be a rocket scientist to see that the presumed Sadc team of officials, if allowed to come into our country, will be nothing but a bunch of regime-change spies deployed to distort things and lie about Zimbabwe on behalf of the US and the EU to craft false evidence in the vain hope of making Zimbabwe a “UN Chapter VII” case while conveniently riding on Sadc’s treacherous back authored in Livingstone.

What makes this more than a sickening possibility is that, President Zuma, the Sadc facilitator on Zimbabwe who apparently made the proposal for a Sadc team of officials in a report that has thus far been kept secret from the Republic of Zimbabwe, recently authorised his representative at the United Nations to join the representatives of Nigeria and Gabon to underhandedly vote for the UN Resolution 1973 which essentially authorised the US and NATO members to individually or collectively bomb and kill Libyans under the pretext of enforcing a “no-fly zone” to ostensibly protect the very same Libyans that are now being killed by the US and NATO bombs on a daily basis.

This is very painful when you consider that the world has helplessly watched the slaughter of civilians by brutal Israel forces with US and EU support in Gaza and other Palestinian territories without anything like UN Resolution 1973 being invoked.

Why have the African puppets that have supported a no-fly zone in Libya not also supported the same in the Gaza strip in the Middle East?

Why is there no-fly zone in Afghanistan to protect innocent civilians that the US and NATO forces are killing like flies from the air day and night?

The nauseating logic effectively supported by South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon is that while it is indeed wrong for the government of Libya to kill civilians in pursuit of its survival, it should be right for the US and NATO forces, with Britain and France taking the leading murderous role, to allegedly defend Libyans from the self-indulgent Colonel Gaddafi by killing them.

With all due respect, and please take note that there is a lot of it, the mere fact that President Zuma of South Africa voted for the atrocities that the US and its NATO allies are committing in Libya under UN Resolution 1973 makes him an undesirable Sadc facilitator on the political and security situation in Zimbabwe. Zuma can no longer be trusted if he ever was.

Are we to believe that any rebel group or treacherous political party that wants to kill civilians or any government that wants to kill its own people or any country that wants to sell out another country or any former colonial power that seeks regime change in its former colony must use the UN to outsource the killing of innocent people to the US and its NATO allies as has happened in the Libyan case?

Is that what regional bodies such as Sadc, African Union and the UN have become: conduits of regime change politics and mass killings by former colonial powers that want to plunder our natural resources?
Let's face it.

President Zuma is now tainted beyond recovery by the Libyan situation and his commitment to the African cause has become as questionable as South Africa's suitability for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

The same applies to Nigeria. While Africa cannot be expected to support South Africa and Nigeria to become permanent members of the UN Security Council given their treachery in Libya where the least they should have done was to abstain from the vote as did Brazil, China, India, Germany and Russia; Zimbabwe cannot be expected to accept an intrusive Sadc team of so-called officials funded by regime change donors to come and work in our country to plot the so-called electoral roadmap with a view to ensuring that the forthcoming general election is decidedly organised in a manner that ensures regime change with President Zuma’s endorsement simply because he has been used to make the ridiculous proposal. We will not allow that to happen. Never ever!

And let those who are entertaining this folly remember that, unlike Libya or even the likes of Tunisia and Egypt whose violent protestocracies have excited idle minds in our country, Zimbabwe got its independence whose 31st anniversary we are celebrating in two weeks only in 1980 and that the combatants who won that independence are not only still alive but also that their critical mass occupies critical space in key sectors of the State.

These comrades know the caves, mountains and township spots from which to defend their liberated motherland without using any air power. Zimbabwe was not liberated from the air but from the ground. And this ground of ours which we shall forever control as liberated sons and daughters of the soil is the one terrain we know only too well.

If you ask Americans about their ill-fated campaign in Afghanistan, they'll confirm that he who controls the ground through the caves, the bushes, forests and the mountains is far better than he who is exposed in the air with all his his hi-tech weapons to “awe and shock” while God is watching it all.

There’s therefore no need for anyone whether in Sadc or elsewhere to play neo-colonial games here on behalf of imperialists who are seeking illegal regime change through their puppets in the MDC.

Zimbabweans expect Presidents Zuma, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia and Armando Guebuza of Mozambique to know this only too well because Zimbabwe’s current onslaught from imperialists in the US, the EU and their allies also mirrors theirs if not today certainly tomorrow.

Back to the offensive communiqué of the Sadc Troika issued last Thursday, what was unacceptable about it was not only its decision to appoint a foreign team of officials who are for all intents and purposes Western spies to join JOMIC without consultation or agreement with the Republic of Zimbabwe but also the expectation that our country would implement a decision it did not make.

What is even more infuriating is the fact that this unacceptable decision which cannot be implemented was made without consultation or agreement with the Republic of Zimbabwe on the basis of the following three equally unacceptable background findings made by the Sadc Troika without any foundation whatsoever.

In the first place, paragraph 14 of the troika’s communiqué says that “the summit appreciated the frankness with which the report was presented by the Sadc facilitator and commended him for the work that he has been doing on behalf of Sadc”. It is preposterous in the extreme for the Sadc mandarins to describe as “frank” a report that was kept away from the Zimbabwean delegation before, during and after the Livingstone summit.

Furthermore, it is mischievous in the extreme to claim that a report that was presented under patently opaque and disrespectful circumstances in apparent pursuit of opaque Western interests was done on behalf of Sadc. No sane person should expect the Republic of Zimbabwe to implement alleged Sadc recommendations based on a report whose authorship and contents are not known. We know the difference between dictatorship and facilitation and we are determined to resist the former.

In the second place, paragraph 15 of the troika’s communiqué says that, “summit recalled past Sadc decisions on the implementation of the GPA and noted with disappointment insufficient progress thereof and expressed its impatience in the delay of the implementation of the GPA”.

Wow, this is very rich in a sick way!

What delay in the implementation of the GPA? It is a shame that the Sadc communiqué makes a bald generalisation over a matter that is crying for specifics. The GPA commits its signatories, Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations, and its guarantors — which are Sadc and the AU — to seek the removal of the illegal and evil economic sanctions.

Has that been done? Who is responsible for the delay in implementing this fundamental pillar of the GPA whose non-implementation has caused untold suffering among ordinary Zimbabweans?

Sadc undertook to set up a ministerial team to engage the Western countries that imposed illegal and evil economic sanctions against Zimbabwe to remove them.

Does President Zuma, who has occasionally spoken out forcefully against these biting sanctions imposed with the support of the MDC and which have not been removed, expect the world to now pretend that the illegal and evil economic sanctions are no longer an issue in Zimbabwe even though they have not been removed?

How can the GPA be fully implemented when the illegal and evil economic sanctions remain with no roadmap towards removing them?

Who is fooling who on this matter? If it is true that Sadc has lost its impatience in the delay of the implementation of the GPA, so have the people of Zimbabwe who now think that Sadc sups with the devil by saying one thing during the day and doing the opposite at night.

In the third place, paragraph 16 of the communiqué of the troika says, “summit noted with grave concern the polarisation of the political environment as characterised by, inter alia, resurgence of violence, arrests and intimidation in Zimbabwe.”

Now, if there’s a resurgence of violence, why should there not be any arrests? Are arrests not a logical consequence of any resurgence of violence?

Surely violence should beget arrests! And if there’s a political party, such as the MDC, which instigates violence to get international attention and then uses that as a political manifesto for the forthcoming general election, should the law enforcement agencies fold their arms and play politics by not arresting the obvious culprits for fear that Sadc and other Western puppets will cry foul by alleging that there’s intimidation or selective arrests and prosecution?

Is it now Sadc policy at the behest of its facilitator, President Zuma, that the MDC should violate the laws of Zimbabwe with impunity such that its officials or Cabinet ministers should be treated as if they are diplomats who cannot be arrested under the Geneva conventions? What’s going on here and what geopolitical nonsense is this?

Already the US and EU regime change donors have put together a dossier of political violence in Zimbabwe in 2011 whose catalogue has gory pictures and images not only taken from the brutal violence committed in KwaZulu Natal in South Africa between 1994 and 1999 but also used before by the US, EU and their allies to justify illegal and evil economic sanctions against Zimbabwe.

It is a shame that President Zuma, who happens to be from KwaZulu Natal, is falling for this over-used trick when he is in a position to know better.

The way that the Sadc Troika is behaving on the Zimbabwean situation against the backdrop of how South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon voted with the African enemy on UN Resolution 1973 against Libya, shows beyond doubt that the time has come for a major rethink in Zimbabwe on who our friends are or should be.

Just because someone is your neighbour does not make them your friend. Cuba and the US are neighbours, but they are not friends. But of course Zimbabwe prefers to be friends with everyone anywhere, especially those countries with which it shares its borders, yet it takes two to tango.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe should start seriously considering the fact that the only countries whose national security is assured today fall only in two categories. One category is made up of countries with weapons of mass destruction which have the capacity to wage nuclear or biological warfare. The US, EU and their allies will always think twice before instigating regime change or enforcing no-fly zones in such countries.

The other category is made up of countries that have defence pacts with countries that have a capacity for nuclear or biological warfare as more or less exemplified by the India-US defence pact signed in 2005.

Following the Livingstone Sadc Troika on Zimbabwe and the African vote on Resolution 1973 against Libya, it has become very clear that Zimbabwe's national security interests do not lie in Sadc or AU pacts given the Judas Iscariot fact that is now rampant in the region and the continent. The time to forge strategic partnerships that really matter in today’s geopolitics has come.

The summit in Livingstone was an early warning signal for our country to move rapidly to make defence pacts with real friends with real power.

*Professor Jonathan Moyo is a Zanu-PF legislator for Tsholotsho North and former Minister of Information and Publicity. This article in reproduced from The Sunday Mail

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Poverty amidst economic growth

Poverty amidst economic growth
By The Post
Thu 07 Apr. 2011, 04:30 CAT

Economic development is meaningless if it just means recording increments in GDP and not in improving the living conditions for the great majority of our people.

You can’t say you are developing a country when you are not developing the people. A country can’t claim to be developing when its people are not developing. Economic growth should depend, in the very first place, on social progress.

There is a great danger when government policies are not combined with clear social concern because they will bring socio-economic deprivation. And this is what we are seeing in Zambia today. While the government is everyday boasting or bragging about development, the situation for the great majority of our people is not improving – it is actually deteriorating.

And this is the reality that Prof Mubiana Macwan’gi is trying to draw the attention of the nation to when she observes that the benefits of economic growth are not trickling down to the majority of our people. Prof Macwan’gi says that poverty and unemployment have increased during the period the country is recording steady growth as reflected in increasing poverty levels, poor housing, unemployment, poor infrastructure and poor access to social services such as health, safe water and other services required in an organised society.

While we are recording growth in GDP, the number of people who, each day, cannot meet the basic needs necessary for a decent human life is increasing in our country. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental needs to remain unsatisfied. And one cannot talk of development if the fundamental needs of the great majority of our people remain unsatisfied.

Economic justice requires that each individual has adequate resources to survive, to develop and thrive, and to give back in service to the community.

Over the past five decades, the human race has come to a more refined appreciation of what development is all about. Based on this understanding, the United Nations, for example, forwarded eight core areas that constitute the focus of attention in trying to attain higher levels of development during the period 1990 to 2015. These areas are: ending poverty, gender, education, child health, maternal health, combating infections, environment and global links.

These are interrelated areas that require simultaneous and systematically coordinated investments. The global community is, to a larger extent, in agreement that sustained efforts in these areas and attainment of the associated eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will significantly improve the standards of living and help to reduce poverty and the inhuman conditions under which millions of the world’s population still live.

Prof Macwan’gi’s statements on the situation in Zambia gives a lot of food for thought. She raises concerns that we have raised many times in this newspaper. We totally agree with her that the current pattern of economic growth is not improving the standard of living of most Zambians; it is not pro-poor. She also drives the point home that the policy environment is not supportive of Zambian workers and entrepreneurs. It is also a painful fact that an opportunity for a healthier fiscal status is recklessly missed through an inappropriate tax regime.

For a country that has committed itself to the MDGs, Zambia’s policymakers still seem oblivious to the extreme poverty, disease and squalor that still characterise the majority of the country’s population. The excessive excitement with the “GDP growth rate” over the recent past poses the question whether the complexity of the developmental phenomenon is well known and if the rationale behind the MDGs is well understood. Is it a question of lack of capacity to understand the issues or is it a calculated move to blind the populace amidst widespread corruption and lack of political will for genuine development?

Ironically, our world is full of recent examples of countries that have attained remarkable social progress in health and education. The policies and investments that allowed countries such as South Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam to succeed are well-documented and subject of much policy analyses. Most of these countries have attained levels of life expectancy at birth equivalent to those of highly developed countries. They also constitute a group of countries, next to the BRICs group (Brazil, Russia, India and China) whose economies are more favourable for rapid economic transformation. In other words, they possess masses of well-educated and healthier people that will serve as a basis for sustained economic development. Why can’t Zambia draw lessons from these countries?

Zambian surveys and analytical studies continue to point to the fact that extreme poverty is still very high countrywide; that most of the poverty is in agriculture and especially amongst those producing less than two hectares of a crop such as maize; that in urban areas the extreme poor are largely the unemployed in our slum areas, and that Western, Northern and Luapula provinces are proportionally worse off, in that order, than the rest of the country.

Instead of using this information as a basis to design social and economic policies that will improve the livelihoods of the population, the policymakers cowardly ignore and at times arrogantly gloss over it in a now familiar fashion. These are policymakers that will hold back useful information that indicates that poverty levels are still high in the country – as is currently the case with the latest Living Conditions Monitoring Survey Report.

They are not ready to disaggregate public finance data to account for how expenditure is linked to needs or poverty levels.

They would rather ignore the latest study on the 2010 maize marketing that clearly shows that current marketing arrangements are not pulling the small, poor farmers out of poverty. They seem lost on how to aggressively address the poor quality of education and health services amidst huge data bases from routine reporting systems and regular surveys. They are not motivated by other countries that are advancing. The immense suffering of the majority of the citizens still leaves them cold. Again, is it a matter of capacity or political will?

Great economic and political thinkers like Professor Macwan’gi are non-partisan and hold independent views. Our policymakers will do well to listen to them carefully and take action on the salient issues being raised. It is high time a more realistic understanding of development was embraced. The evidence base is available to transform this country on a developmental path. The policymakers need to convince us that they are capable leaders and mean well for mother Zambia.